Out-come

We ended up just sending an email to the in-laws simply stating that we have left evangelical Christianity.  We’ll see them tomorrow.

I know that they are relieved that we are no longer attending the church I grew up in.  However, evangelicalism has become their main identity.  If they are threatened by evolution and naked babies, I don’t foresee any talk about religion being very fruitful. 

Thankfully, there are grandkids crawling around who are a much better topic of conversation!  (As long as Lil’T doesn’t pray to Goddess or explain that Jesus and Santa Claus aren’t still alive, we should be fine…)

While meeting my parents, I discovered they had decided I was an atheist. My mother was quite surprised to discover that I think it highly likely that Jesus actually existed, that I am not a materialist, and that I am doing better emotionally than I have since… I was 2?

Being treated like I was stupid and could no longer understand the Bible was frustrating, but not as frustrating as the constant put downs my parents gave themselves. 

“I know I need a saviour, unworthy, ___, ___  sinner that I am.” (Fill in the blanks with self-loathing terms)

“If there was no resurrection, there is no hope.”

My parents are great at listening, as long as they are listened to as well so we did have some good conversations.  And I know that they follow any discussion with further research, so it will be a learning experience for all of us.

My brothers were introduced to Common Sense Atheism and Non-Stamp Collector.  Their penance for laughing at it was being subjected to several podcast sermons.   Including one printed off and preached to us in hellfire and brimstone glory!

We talked mostly about religion and politics and laughed the majority of the time.  Until they let me know about certain abuses, past and present, going on in my former church. 

I tried so hard to respect my elders, and but great ballsacks of Zeus!  

We’ve decided to arrange a meeting with one of the church leaders who was asking my brothers how the church has failed the young people.  We plan to tell him some of the ways it is so harmful.  I know other people are concerned with the direction this group is headed, and I want to support anyone who is more concerned about the well being of the people than passing on certain teachings.

And I thought I was done with church…

9 thoughts on “Out-come

  1. Ahab says:

    I’m glad your parents are good listeners. Keep us posted as to how this matters develops.

  2. Glad it worked out relatively well (pun intended). My folks were sure it was either their fault I stopped attending church or it was because i had gone to university. I was 52 when I made the break.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I look forward to hearing about how things turn out over the long-haul- especially regarding your family relationships! I just told my mother today that I’m an agnostic at this point and gave her the web address for my blog. Of course my parents converted to evangelical Xianity after we kids did so it will be a very different dynamic.

    Wow- Kudos to you taking on your old church! Good luck! I wouldn’t be suprised if you are in for a fight! Let us know how it goes!

    And on the nudity thing- I think it is a cultural thing which varies widely as well as an upbringing thing which varies for each family. It sometimes overlaps with evangelical christians but doesn’t need to! There are parents who are more the natural parenting/ breastfeeding/ natural birth/ attachment parenting/ or granola sort, etc. who are Christians but are less uptight about nudity. I understand that many Europeans are much more comfortable with nudity as well. For example, my hubby lived in Finland for a while and he knew whole families who attended the sauna together- in a public sauna with other strangers, all naked of course, so I think it just depends on people’s upbringing. In my experience with attachment parenting, breastfeeding and co-sleeping, these arrangements may lend themselves to a more relaxed atmosphere in regards to modesty, etc.

    Well, I am excited for you all. There is freedom in being able to live as you really are! 🙂

    • prairienymph says:

      Wow. You are brave for giving your mom your blog address! I am not there yet. Only the family black sheep can have access here.
      How did she take the news of your deconversion?

      I will let you know how it goes when I challenge my old church. I am not sure how many issues to bring up. The last time I wrote an essay on why women should be allowed to teach in church, only one elder actually listened to me. He said he would present the information to the others again but not let them know it was written by a woman. Who knows what good it will do.

      About nudity, my parents are definitely more hippie and granola types. His parents do have the SUV and house in the suburbs. It is funny, I sometimes mention that I’ve talked to people who have gone to a nudist camp and some Christians respond with how Adam and Eve were naked so it must be fine and others claim it is morally wrong although they don’t know how.

  4. theo(il)logical says:

    You wrote: “Thankfully, there are grandkids crawling around who are a much better topic of conversation!” That may be true and take some of the edge off, but what will you do when grandma and grandpa tuck the grandkids in at night and say a prayer with them, or say the “sinners prayer” with them when they get a little older. There is still a mine field to navigate.

    Religion is more than a cognitive exercise of belief. (And being non/anti/a-religious is more than a cognitive exercise of dis-belief.) In your previous post, Quester’s response came closest to highlighting this point: Religion is a practice that binds family members together.* If you think back to your own experience while growing up you will see that religion formed the foundation for how your parents raised you: the lullabies they sang you were songs learned in the church nursery; as you got older the stories they told you Bible stories before bed time; they taught you thankfulness by saying grace at mealtimes; going to church on Sunday mornings was a family event; as a teen you prayed together when times got tough to give you comfort, etc. You may be able to stop an explicit conversation about religion between your in-laws and your own family, but an implicit kind of religion will more then likely overshadow certain relationships. When religion so deeply structures the way your parents parent, asking them to change their parenting style will surely lead to its challenges in grand-parenting.

    * I intentionally use the phrase “bind together” to invoke one of the proposed Latin roots of the word “religion,” religare, which means “to bind together.”

    • prairienymph says:

      Yes, I am aware that the conversation will most likely occur eventually. I did think that forcing the conversation at Christmas time would be very inconsiderate of me.

      The truth is, my in-laws and I barely know each other. We rarely see each other and they tend to avoid deep conversations. I would like to have an actual relationship with them first before challenging their belief that they can only have deep relationships with those who have religious beliefs similar to theirs.

      I disagree that religion was the basis of their parenting. While church and its activities did provide structure, I hardly think that the specific religion itself deserves so much credit. They would have sang lullabies regardless, and taught us thankfulness and still tried to comfort us in rough times. Their religion gave it a particular form, but these things would still have existed without it.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        That is just my point: religion gave your in-laws’ parenting a particular form of parenting. However, there are only particular forms. There is neutral form from which cultural or religious or class particularities can be stripped away to reveal something pure and ideal. (If there are, please give me an example.) so I’m not saying that your in-laws only knew how to be “good parents” because they were evangelical Christians. Rather I’m saying, their parenting techniques were embodied in a distinctively evangelical Christian form, which is not so easily shed.

        Blog Fodder seems to extend this point, rightly I think, to what it means to be an atheist, that is to what it means to embody new cognition. (GBS = George Bernard Shaw?)

        You may be interested in Marcel Mauss’ classic essay: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29890878/Marcel-Mauss-Techniques-of-the-Body It’s an easyand fascinating read (Who knew the Masai sleep standing upright? I always thought sleeping while lying down was the natural thing to do), if not amusing because it obviously was written in another time.

      • prairienymph says:

        Yes, religion gives a particular form to parenting as well as other things in life.
        So? That doesn’t mean that Christians are the only ones who love their children and give them what they need. Me putting off the conversation as to the particulars of our religious views has more to do with trying to be respectful.
        They parented how they felt was best, now it is our turn. They can grandparent as they feel best until it infringes on our parenting.
        We are not asking them to change their parenting style to suit our worldview. The only thing we will ask them is to let us be the parents.
        This is very easy since we only see them a few days a year. (And since we go through presents before they are opened and donate whatever we don’t want:)

        Believe me, I would love to challenge them and get a rousing debate going. This would not be helpful with this family.

  5. Even atheists and agnostics have a religious culture behind them. I am not a Muslim agnostic, nor a Catholic atheist. Having come from a British family of fundamentalist protestant background, that is what I leave behind (and carry vestiges of it with me). How much of it is British and how much is religious is impossible to determine as they are impossible to separate. So as the Irish woman demanded of GBS (??) Are you a Protestant Atheist or a Catholic Atheist?

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